ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev has been fined $25,000 by the WTA Tour and suspended from tour involvement for a year for questioning Serena and Venus Williams’ gender in comments on Russian television last week.
Tarpischev appeared on the Russian late-night show “Evening Urgant” alongside former WTA player Elena Dementieva last week. When Dementieva was asked what it was like to play against the Williams sisters, Tarpischev jumped in and referred to them as the “Williams brothers,” according to multiple reports.
After a back-and-forth with the show host and Dementieva, who did not laugh at the comment, Tarpischev reportedly continued: “It’s frightening when you look at them. But really you just need to play against the ball.”
The derogatory remarks by the head of the Russian Tennis Federation come out of nowhere and attacks not just two of the sport’s biggest stars, but the very foundation of the women’s game.
The WTA Tour said Friday that the $25,000 fine is the maximum allowed under tour rules and that it is seeking Tarpischev’s removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup for one year. The tour also said Tarpischev owes the Williams sisters a personal apology.
They did the cool thing, the classy thing, by bringing Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert out to embellish, or even to authenticate, the occasion of Serena Williams joining their 18 Grand Slam singles victory club Sunday evening after Williams toyed with Caroline Wozniacki in the United States Open final.
The request was made Saturday, Navratilova would say, after standing with Evert in a corner of the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium, waiting for Mary Carillo to cue them to the presentation of the championship trophy and a shiny bracelet.
Once upon an era, the career-long rivals Navratilova and Evert shared bagels in the locker room before fittingly finishing their careers with the same number of slams. Now it was their turn to hug and welcome into the fold a woman they — and Carillo, the former player and esteemed tennis commentator — didn’t always shower with praise, didn’t always think gave the game the respect it deserved.
Serena Williams poses with the Billy Jean King Trophy after defeating Maria Sharapova of Russia in October in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
LONDON (AP) — Serena Williams has been named the Women’s Tennis Ass0ciation’s Player of the Year after winning major titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and claiming gold at the London Olympics. Williams, who has won 15 Grand Slam singles titles and four Olympic gold medals, was 48-2 over the final seven months of the season.
It is the fourth time Williams has won the award, which is voted on by international tennis media. She also was named WTA Player of the Year in 2002, 2008 and 2009. Only Steffi Graf (eight times) and Martina Navratilova (seven times) have won the award more than Williams.